At UN, Unanswered Questions on Sudan, Kosovo and
Kenya, Russia on McCain, Chinese Feasts
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
October 20 -- The level of UN-responsiveness
by Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson peaked on Monday, with three questions in
not answered, even, aggressively rebuffed. The questions ranged from
Kosovo to Kenya, from kidnapped oil workers to Balkan politics to
for which the UN has claimed credit. That is no guarantee that even the
basic questions will be answered. The transcript is below.
the Russian Mission to the UN's press release about a fundraising
John McCain, sent to Inner City Press and others (click here for press
release, and here for McCain's
letter) garnered mainstream coverage. What was not sufficiently asked
or answered was why Russia chose to embarrass McCain, and how they
would respond to a similar letter from Obama's campaign.
ever increasing evasions by the Office of the Spokesperson for the
General, consider Monday's transcript:
Inner City Press: There are these
in Abyei in South Sudan and [inaudible] of these oil workers being
taken hostage by the Justice and Equality Movement.
Does UNMIS have any involvement, or UNAMID,
either in trying to find out who took them hostage and get them
Spokesperson: I don’t know,
really. I can try to find out whether they
all doing an investigation on that. I
wouldn’t suppose they would, but I’ll try to find out for you.
Inner City Press: Okay,
thanks. The other is, there is also the
EULEX force in Kosovo, not force, Rule of Law Mission, is now said to
the United States which is obviously not a member of the European Union. Did the UN in handing over its power to this
EULEX, that it was in its understanding that non-EU members would
Spokesperson: The UN has not
handed over power. The UN is still
functioning under 1244. In working with
EULEX on these issues, what
EULEX decides in terms of its own composition is not for the UN to
Question: Would its [inaudible]
put countries that have
nothing to do...
Spokesperson: That has to do
with, those are their own
Churkin, with Rep's of US and China, McCain
letter and reaction to EULEX-US not shown
Inner City Press: And this guy,
Gallucci, who was one of the deputies of UNMIK that covered northern
Kosovo, has said that he’s been transferred to East Timor. Was this against... is that a transfer that
he requested? I mean, because he is a
controversial figure in Kosovo, you may think it’s not important, but
siding with Serbia in the takeover of the court house on 17 May.
Spokesperson: Well, you should
ask him whether it is a
voluntary transfer. You should ask him.
Inner City Press: Okay. I guess,
I am saying, you’re not aware of any
move within the UN here to transfer Mr. Gallucci to placate other
Inner City Press: Okay. And
then, it sort of somewhat related to the
question about Zimbabwe. In Kenya, Kofi
Annan got a report about the violence in the elections, including the
suggestion that various people be prosecuted in a tribunal. He says he supports that.
Is he saying that on behalf of the UN?
Is he saying...
Spokesperson: No, he is the
mediator of the post-electoral
crisis in Kenya and he is speaking as the mediator in this case.
Inner City Press: Is that a
Spokesperson: No, he is not. It’s his role; his own role...
Inner City Press: Does the UN
Spokesperson: We supported his
role all throughout and we
still do support his effort in Kenya to try to mediate the crisis. And as you know, the Secretary-General went
there to express his support for that mission.
Inner City Press: Would the UN,
if requested, would the UN; there is a call for a tribunal, whether
national one or may be an international one.
Is the UN aware of any request that it participate
in that tribunal?
Spokesperson: No, there is no
such request and I won’t
answer a hypothetical question of that sort.
All we can
say, particularly during the U.S. baseball playoffs, is three strikes
you're out. Contrast this with the Spokesperson
President of the General Assembly, who after the exchange below
sent a Monday
night email confirming the vote for Australia and saying he'd try to
copy of the Security Council election ballot on Tuesday:
Spokesperson: I can give you a
precise and detailed answer
Inner City Press: One final
follow up on the Security Council elections on Friday.
Maybe I didn’t ask it right. Is
there a way we can see, not how people
voted, but what the ballot looked like? Because, it seems that that
Spokesperson: It was a normal
Inner City Press: Okay. No, no,
the actual thing that people voted on; were these ones like,
and it turns out when you got it out, it didn’t say Australia. Apparently, Australia, maybe I misheard
you. Apparently Australia got a vote in
Spokesperson: Let me get the
official counting for that for
Inner City Press: Australia got a
vote and it was said that this was, somehow some voter mistook
Austria and cast their ballot. So, I
didn’t figure [inaudible].
Spokesperson: I don’t remember
seeing Australia. I mean, I hear the
President of the General
Assembly giving the votes, the breakdown and I took notes.
And I don’t remember Australia; but may be I
am wrong. Let me check that more
precisely for you.
Inner City Press: I don’t mean
the boxes; I mean the actual, whatever, form the people voted on. People just checked as the thing was running.
I can try to get a copy for you.
Question: See, if you can, just
to figure that
out. And the other one is -- this has to
do with the Fourth Committee. There was
this postponement of the decolonization and the Western Sahara
resolutions. Do you have any idea if, is
there some deadline to vote on them or they’re going to be voted on
today? Where is that?
Spokesperson: I am not sure what
the deadline is. I can check that for you. But I think it is supposed to be today and
tomorrow, the discussions.
And also exactly, it also said the Fourth Committee
is going to consider
“questions of information”, I guess that’s functioning as the Committee
Spokesperson: I assume so.
Question: Anyway, are the
presentations by the
Department of Public Information (DPI) to the Committee, are they
available? For example, on this issue of
UN affairs where [inaudible]... for submissions. Is
that something the public gets or...?
Spokesperson: To be honest, I
don’t know. I’ll check that for you and
I’ll let you know
Question: Okay, great.
Thanks very much.
Monday, this Spokesperson Enrique Yeves wrote to say
"Hi Matthew, You were right,
Austrailia got one vote! I´ll try tomorow to see if I can get a
Regards (and good night!)"
All we can
say is, like night and day.
Footnote on... food: Monday evening
in the UN Delegates'
Dining Room, Under Secretary General Lynn Pascoe praised China, flanked
country's Permanent Representative and his Deputy, Mr. Liu. Tourism and
dynamism were extolled. (Left unanswered, again by Ban's Spokesperson's
Office, was Inner City Press' question last week about whether Lynn
Pascoe traveled to Rabat to get the government of Morocco to agree to
Christopher Ross as his Western Sahara envoy.)
feasting began, on
shrimp and duck and even lobster claws. This comes two weeks after a
in the lobby of the Shanghai Expo 2010. China is ascendant, at the
UN as elsewhere. But various Ambassadors said the food was
disappointing. Only at the UN. Next
week at the Mission we bet that things will be different.
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
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